Four Arab countries agree to set up free trade zone

Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco signed an agreement (Jan 11) to set up a free trade zone among them after a year and a half of negotiations.

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By  Massoud Derhally Published  January 14, 2003

Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia and Morocco signed an agreement (Jan 11) to set up a free trade zone among them after a year and a half of negotiations.

Foreign trade ministers of the four Arab League countries signed the agreement, which will lower tariffs between the four countries in stages until they are removed entirely by January 2006. Customs duties between the countries will also decrease by 65% in 2003.

“This agreement is a message to the whole world that a new page has turned among Arab countries to create a new (trade) block,” said Egypt’s Minister of Trade, Youssef Boutros Ghali.

“It creates an institutional base that will enable these four Arab countries to create a united front for free trade with Europe and that will complement each other's industrial output,” Ghali added.

The agreement encourages the liberalisation of trade relations with the European Union and wants to put into operation the rules of origin procedure between the four countries and the EU.

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